Sunday, June 6, 2010

We've been here before. Now has Pim got what it takes to lift this listless team?

In 2006, the Socceroos final warmup match was a similarly confused and erratic performance, a tight win over Liechtenstein characterised by sloppy passing, vague defending and a lack of cohesion. So, was the 3-1 loss to the United States last night - sharing all these characteristics and a few more besides - a good omen? Probably not.
Too much can be made of the powers of managers. But could anyone notice the tired face on bench bound Pim last night and not wish for a time when the Socceroos had someone capable of rousing them from their slumber, of bringing them to a psychological peak with a wave of that meaty arm?
It says it all that Pim's next venture will be taking over the youth set up in Morocco - a move that hardly screams ambition or tells of a man in wide demand as a motivator of men. It was also a weakness to feel forced into announcing his next destination before this job was completed.Can he take a team suffering fatigue and struggling to cope with the peculiarities of altitude and a trick ball and give them what Hiddink did four years ago?
According to Jason Culina last night, Verbeek has been hammering them in training. It was much the same four years ago when Hiddink slaughtered his players in the weeks before their first match against Japan and it helped them dig deep when they looked beaten. But how much of that success and subsequent group advancement was down to Hiddink's motivational powers, his gravitas?

Is there a Pim X Factor, as yet unseen, which will emerge when his team is a goal down with 10 minutes to play at World Cup? The senior players say they love him, but maybe that is because he doesn't rattle their cages as his predecessor did, famously leaving Cahill out of the starting lineup four years ago, or dropping Schwarzer for the third match. Tecnically, and tactically, the Socceroos are not going improve over the next week. Last night they ran into a better team, in a friendly it must be remembered, and faltered. So, what extra can Pim bring to the table, now that it matters.

What else did we learn?

If Vince Grella could kick the ball as well as he kicks his opponents he'd be a superstar.

The US are justifiably ranked higher than we are. Their speed carved Craig Moore to bits and but for an astonishing miss and a wrongly ruled out goal, this might have been a massacre.

Harry is a desperation play. If he can't be risked for 15 minutes in a friendly, what makes us think he can have any impact in the tournament? No matter what happens in the next eight days, he has played two minutes in a competitive match in 2010.

Tim Cahill will carry a heavy load. Hopefully his neck injury is just a slight strain.

We don't have a freekick option. Despite Tim Cahill's glorious freekick goals in a TV ad, we are bereft of someone who can take advantage of freekicks around the box. Luke Wilkshire, excellent at delivering from wide, had one tepid attempt. Bresciano, a player who has scored from set pieces in the past, wore the air of a defeated man when he walked up to crash his straight into the wall. His body language screams insecurity right now.

Schwarzer remains one of the world's great goalkeepers. Better than Almunia? Right up in the top few for mine. Two saves, one from Dempsey going across the goal into the bottom corner, and a swerving thunderbolt from Bradley, showed his class.

 In front of him, however, we have a whole lot of problems.

What did you learn last night?


  1. I learnt the folly of picking too many players with a rubbish buildup. I've no problem with the selection of Kewell - we can gamble on one guy of his calibre. The issue is he's one of 10 or so who has played little to no club football this year.

    I've also seen the power an value of the A-league - I wish Pim had. I'd much rather have Alex Brosque, Mile Sterjovki or Simon Colosimo who would be fresh and had come off a good A-league season.

    All that said, it's a bit too early for the autopsy yet.....

  2. I agree Greg. Bresciano looks underdone and Vince Grella is being picked on past glories at the moment. I also agree it's early,we were a bit off the game last time as well and came good when it counted

  3. A I thought I was being overly negative writing off Englands chances...actually come to think of it, Australia are probably just about the only team England could beat!

    Pim is a woeful - unadventurous - boring - insert negative adjective here - manager. Much better side in 2006 than this one. Are there no decent Australian strikers out there?

  4. They had a good striker, MacDonald, but sent him home